Unplugged

karma_dominoDear scumbag-who-stole-my-phone,

Today I set out for a brisk walk to the mall with my babies, with plans to give my son the chance to play in the mall’s indoor playground. He LOVES going there, and that’s why my spirits were high when I left the house at 1:00 sharp this afternoon, punctually on the timetable I had set for myself this morning. If you are a mother, or are around a mother of youngsters, you must know how RARE it is to be on the ball with outings and schedules. I even managed to put Zaky to sleep in 5 minutes right before heading out so that he could nap peacefully during our 15-20 minute trek. Zara didn’t cry, as she sometimes does as soon as I start putting my shoes on. Once outside, the weather was absolutely pleasant and mild which further lifted me up, as my friends and family back home seem to be complaining of snow and slush. I was feeling blessed and grateful for everything.

I was even looking forward to picking up my parcel from the mall’s post office. Receiving parcels is always a delight, whether its a surprise gift from someone back home, or an online purchase I’ve been expecting. But I only got around to opening the package hours after I got home because my mind was so preoccupied by you stealing my phone, most likely at the post office.

You know what else I was excited about today? Seeing my husband. He never comes home early from work. Never ever. Today was that blue moon when he was coming home quite early, and though I wasn’t going to be home to welcome him, I was super duper excited to see his smiling face when we got back from our playtime at the mall. But when you stole my phone, my vibe was killed. I called my husband from a store and when he picked us up, I asked him not to look at me – because we both knew I would start crying if he did.

What was supposed to be a perfect day became yet another bump in the road for me. I got this phone a couple of months before my first baby was born. It contained over a thousand photos of both my babies, after I recently dumped nearly another thousand on a hard drive (THANK GOD). Those photos and dozens of recent videos were the special moments that have kept me grounded and sane throughout this whirlwind phase of early motherhood. You took them like they were nothing.

Now I’m not going to wish ill upon you. As angry as I am with you, I will not wish for you to trip and crack your skull. I will not wish for you to cut your finger and bleed profusely when chopping an onion. And I will not wish for you to fall down a long flight of stairs. And even though, thanks to you, my son’s playtime was cut WAY short, I will not wish for you to get hit by a bus. Instead, I will take the high road and make the most out of not having a smartphone for a little while. I will fold that pile of laundry that has been sitting in the basket for three days. I will declutter the top of my dresser so I could see the surface of it again. I will take the time to stare into my daughter’s mesmerizing eyes a little longer when she looks up at me with complete infatuation. I will wrestle, tickle, and act silly with my son until our tummies hurt from laughter. I will listen more attentively to my husband’s daily office tales that I’m sure he waits all day to come home and share with me. I will make the most out of this much-needed time away from social media.

I admit that lately I had been getting quite attached to my phone. Ever since coming back from our visit to Montreal, I have been increasingly homesick as the days go by. Staying connected on Whatsapp, Facebook, and Instagram made me feel like I was still involved in everyone’s lives and not left out. Your theft was divine intervention. That’s what makes this situation ok for me. And when karma pulls the proverbial rug from under your feet so swiftly, that it knocks over a glass vase that shatters into a thousand pieces, one of which flies into your eye, as you fall and break your back and suffer a concussion, don’t worry. Be gracious and find the silver lining.

Asshole.

Sincerely,

Moi

Now I Know My A,B,C,D!

Lately my 21-month old has been singing his alphabet(his abbreviated version). It’s adorable considering I’ve been singing it to him since he was born, but yesterday he demonstrated a level of comprehension which blew me away! Needless to say, the teacher in me has been working on letter recognition with the tot and I’m beyond thrilled that some results have shown.

photo 1He walked into his room and looked up at this wall and let out a loud gasp. After which he said with a big smile “A-B-C-D!” Boy have I been marveling at that moment ever since! I am so proud that he recognizes letters in general and understands the concept of them being part of a particular category of symbols. Below are some simple tools I’ve been using to help him learn the alphabet.

IMG_9249-0.JPG I found these foam letters at Dollar Tree (loving it more than Dollarama) for only $1.25. They’re a decent small size, perfect for little fingers to point to and manipulate. I’ve only been going over letters A-G with him so far. I have overheard him “studying” but since I have also caught him chewing on them, I have them tucked away out of reach!

IMG_9251-1.PNG Next, I noticed that he’d stop playing to tune in to this PBS Kids program called ‘Super Why’. In a nutshell, it is about a crew of super heroes, “super readers” who solve problems through the power of reading. It is an interactive program. Although Zaky does not realize that, he has been engaged lately because he sees alphabet letters all over the tv screen! He loves repeating the letter names when he hears the characters saying them. If you don’t have PBS, you can definitely find episodes on YouTube.

IMG_9248.JPG I went to Chapters and had a specific type of ABC book in mind. I really wanted the letters to be large, colourful and easy to recognize. Often times alphabet books are stuffed with images and art, and I feel that it could be too much stimuli for a little person trying to learn one concept at a time. With the help of a salesperson, I found this book that was better than what I was looking for. It allows readers to trace the letters, giving them a “multisensory experience that builds muscular memory and the dexterity needed to control a crayon or pencil”.

IMG_9268.JPG Finally, I found these flashcards at Dollar Tree for $1.25 as well. Truthfully I haven’t used them yet, but I have them in my bag of tricks as yet another method of exposing Zaky to the alphabet. As you may have noticed, once Zaky got to them I learned very quickly to keep them out of reach as well. The kid’s a monster, remember?

Now I’m not setting out to create a little genius (although I know my husband would love that). I also do not believe that a toddler needs to recite and recognize the entire alphabet before the age of 2. What I’ve been doing here is banking on my son’s current interests. It’s the best time for exposure because he is intrinsically fascinated and as we know, at that age the mind is a sponge. With that said, don’t hesitate to jump on teachable moments that come your way too!

Forgiveness

I write this as I rock my toddler to sleep. It’s been a very long, rainy, dark and lonely Monday. The day went smooth, without any tantrums or messes. But it’s the bedtime routine that’s tricky when you have a toddler and a baby, and you’re by yourself (daddy will be home late tonight). It can get ugly.

Tonight Zaky was very very excited after supper and decided it would be fun to run into my bedroom and keep slamming the door shut everytime I tried to get in. And once I did get in, he dashed into the master bathroom and closed the door – with him inside. It was only a matter of one second but that’s usually all it takes for accidents to happen, right? Don’t worry, nothing happened except I opened the door and snapped at him with that scary mom face I’ve mastered. Outburst #1.

Bath time had to start and finish before the baby got fussy in the bouncer. It was going well until Zaky decided he didn’t want the towel around him. Meanwhile Zara started to fuss, my patience wore off and I lost my temper. Outburst #2 and a crying baby.

We’re all finally in the nursery ready to call it a night. Baby successfully falls asleep and toddler seems cooperative too. Until the tossing and turning. When I remind him sternly (ok it was more than stern) that it’s “dodo time”: outburst #3. ‘Holy bananas please don’t wake Zara you little rascal!’ is truthfully what I’m thinking, until he gives me his momma’s boy pout with the arms-open-wide plea to be held. And within moments of rocking in my arms, he’s out like a light.

At this point you might be wondering if I’m counting my outbursts or his. I’m not even sure myself! Frankly, I can get consumed with desperation at the end of the day. I just need them to sleep so that I can “start” my day! That quiet, grown-up time is so precious.

Many mothers would agree that once they are peacefully sleeping, you sometimes want to wake them up with your kisses because they’re so darn cute. I have those feelings most on nights like tonight when I feel bad for losing my temper with my spirited boy. I feel regret when I reflect on my actions as a parent in the last hour. I could have handled his misbehaviour differently. I feel guilty for making him cry, when I know that he was just acting like a tired almost-2 year old. I know I’m flawed but there is a bright side.

One of the first lessons my son taught me was forgiveness. The purity of a child’s heart is overwhelmingly beautiful. I learned this on a night when my husband was in Vancouver and I was alone with Zaky and pregnant with Zara. I was shocked at my impatience and went to sleep convinced that my son will hate me in the morning. But he didn’t. He was so happy to see me and wanted to play and cuddle. I learned then that yes, he loves me. He accepts me. It’s unconditional. It’s pure. I learned that forgiveness doesn’t have to be a choice, it could be instinctive. We all make mistakes, even parents. Forgiveness is not an excuse to make deliberate mistakes! But forgiveness liberates. On a small scale, it makes you happy. On a larger scale, it can give you a new beginning. With the same purity that our children innately forgive, maybe parents should forgive themselves too.

Supermom

Ever since we moved here, and especially after Zara was born, friends back home have regularly asked, “How do you do it?” Whether they have babies of their own or not, there seems to be a mystery surrounding my new lifestyle. I’m ready to talk about it.

One goal we promised to fulfill during our stay here was to make everyday all about our little family. So I wholeheartedly embraced my role as the primary caregiver, the mother, the cook, the housekeeper, and the friend to our babies. Consequentially kind and well-meaning friends, my husband included, have proudly referred to me as a “supermom”. But I respectfully disagree.

I’m far. Very, very far from my support network. I’m exclusively a stay-at-home mother and housewife. I can count on my fingers how many times I have actually spent time with the very few friends I have made here. But I’m not complaining. Not at all.

There have even been easy days, hard days, and harder days. Days when I’ve felt guilt, days when I’ve felt pride. I have done things right. I have done things wrong. Tears have been shed. Knees have been scraped. Heavy diapers. Hungry tummies. Runny noses. Cold fingers and toes. Boredom. Mischief. Tantrums. Laughter. Discovery. Imagination. Colourful storybooks. Tight cuddles. Sweet kisses. Warm blankies. Yummy fruits. Endless dancing. Excitement at the playground. Nursery rhymes in the car. The list goes on.

But none of this makes me a superhero. I cut myself slack as often as possible because I’m human. Letting myself feel the wave of emotions that come with this job. I’m a real mom, not a supermom. I’m not reinventing the wheel, but just taking it for a spin one day at a time. I don’t have a user manual or special powers. I just strive to be super at simply being a mom.